Igor Smirnov has held the presidency of the unrecognised republic of Transnistria since the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed on 2nd September 1990.
Today, 11th December 2011, he stands for re-election. This time, polls suggest that Smirnov risks losing his place to, Anatol Kaminski, an opposition candidate who is currently favoured by Moscow.
According to the report above, Moscow can only gain from the situation, whatever the outcome:
“[Transnistrian] factories run on Russian gas, and the bills have piled up to the point where the unrecognised republic’s debt has now reached 2.8 billion dollars (approximately 2 billion euros). In the event of a reunification with Moldova … Russia will demand the payment of this debt.
Transnistria’s economy is an artificial one: free Russian energy and exports to Europe, thanks to Chisinau’s diplomatic efforts … with the EU (750 Transnistrian companies, which have registered in Chisinau, are now exporting to the EU without paying tax to the Moldovan state).
If Russia really wanted change, all it would need to do is to cut off the free gas, and Transnistria’s pseudo economy would collapse after a few months. But why would it bother? It stands to gain no matter who is elected in Tiraspol”